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[Abuse] [Salinas Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 39]
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Inspired by Prisoner Standing up Against Oppression

Since I arrived here in Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), I have personally observed officers oppress prisoners. One prisoner who is disabled was jumped on by these officers, and these officers falsified reports to cover up their use of unnecessary force. Well, he filed 602 (grievance) after 602 on these officers, and he has not allowed the tricks and oppressive tactics to stop him. They placed him in the hole and he managed to get out in 3 days. And now these same officers realize that he is not going to stop, and have turned to getting at other prisoners to get him off the yard, all because of his 602 filing and the direction he is taking against them.

Other prisoners have mentioned how this person always has the officers around him, as to feed into the officers agenda, but that's just not true. This prisoner would be minding his own business, and they start provoking him, so he turns around and uses law back at them. One time officers told him he was a "rat for 602ing all the officers," and he told the officers he would 602 them if they violate him. They responded that they are not afraid of the 602, but when he asked them if they are afraid of "the grand jury" they changed their tune, and demeanor.

I have never seen anyone who was not afraid of the officers, despite what they have already done to him. The amazing thing is he stays to himself and is laid back and shares law with others. I never once seen him involved in any altercations, verbal or physical, with other prisoners. Some officers don't want to even touch him during searches, and I overheard one say this is because he loves his money and job.

This is inspiring to me, because I have watched the officers throw everything at this prisoner and he is still not dissuaded. And now the divide and conquer tactic of paying another prisoner to take care of their problem is what they have resorted to.

I hope MIM(Prisons) is able to convey what I am saying, because I see the teaching from the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles in his walk, and just some of the fruits of these principles that he is reaping, too. I know the officers hate him because I personally hear them talking bad about him.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a great portrait of a prisoner fighting his own battles in prison and through this fight inspiring others. He exemplifies the Peace principle of the UFPP: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." Drawing the hatred of the prison officers is a good sign of success, though of course we always want to minimize the suffering of our comrades and help them gain as much room to organize and survive behind bars as possible.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Control Units] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Back in the SHU II D.R.

Fuck Social Control


Grade A to the East Block from S.W.A.C.
Struggling with all my might
No official record of a 10 30
Nobody has flown a kite

I'm back in the SHU II D.R.
I'm talkin bout CDCR noise
Back in the SHU II D.R.

Been away so long they hardly knew my face
No parade or welcome home
Bought a good guitar could not afford clear-case
T.V. coming on state loan

[Chorus 2:]
I'm back in the SHU II D.R.
No sun on the out alone yard, boyz
Not in the SHU II
I'm in the SHU too
Back in the SHU II D.R.

[Verse 3]
Now the Ukraine psych doctor Anderchuck
She brings me peace of mind
No psycho pills make me scream and shout
But Jasmine's always on my mi mi mi mi mi mi mind [so it's on!]

[Solo/riff, repeat chorus 2 (lines 1, 2, 5) verse 3]

Yo California shut the SHU down north and south
U$A from east to west
You just gave them property that I'm allowed
No guitar but all the rest

Just like in the SHU II D.R.
Can't settle for C.D.C.R. ploys
Back in the SHU II D.R.



Go to:
http://www.guitaretab.com/b/beatles/24462.html for the chords. If you haven't figured this out yet, "Back in the SHU II D.R." is a parody of the Beatles hit song "Back in the U.S.S.R.". Isn't Paul in town? Send him a copy.

Notes:
"Grade A" is a privilege status. "S.Q.A.C." is San Quentin Adjustment Center. The out alone yard mentioned in chorus 2 consists of dozens of cages under a huge metal canopy which blocks all sun except what pierces through rust holes in it. Jasmine is the brand name of my guitar. California's SHUs are getting more like the Security Housing Unit II for death row ? the SHU II D.R. known as East Block. And in many ways it's all the same... only the names have changed... and every day I feel I'm wasting away... Alright now.

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[Hunger Strike] [Migrants] [US Penitentiary MAX] [Federal]
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Federal Supermax Prisoners Fight Complacency and Injustice

I began a hunger strike here at the federal supermax 16 days ago with several peers. My body is weak but my indignation is as powerful as ever and fuels my determination to not give up. The federal prison system controls us by giving us email, MP3 players, and huge meals daily. But under all of this we are not free and we must not ever trade our freedom and dignity for entertaining distractions and sugary snacks.

As many states slowly begin to close prisons, the federal government now seeks to use illegal immigration as an excuse to incarcerate thousands of poor migrants en masse. Only a corrupt, cold, capitalist society would justify incarcerating children simply because they were brought to America seeking food, shelter and a better life. Wall Street crooks haven't spent one day in a jail cell yet thousands of migrant children sit piled into cells so tightly there is no room to walk.

We must not become fat, lazy, complacent and compliant in the destruction of the social and moral fabric of our society (any more than it already is). We must all resist oppression for as Frederick Douglass once said, "The limits of tyrants are proscribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree wholeheartedly with this prisoner's sentiments about prisons, immigration and capitalism. And we join his call to all to resist oppression and complacency. We do, however, have some concerns about people initiating hunger strikes without clear demands and goals as this can lead to the weakening and even death of comrades who still have much to contribute to the struggle. This is a question of strategy and ensuring that we carefully plan actions so to maximize our energies and efforts, rather than bringing down repression without any gains. Sometimes we do take on losing battles, but in the course of these fights we are able to use the struggle to educate many and gain new supporters. We do not have more details on this comrade's hunger strike so we offer these cautionary words without judging h particular situation.

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[Medical Care] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 40]
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Hailey Care: Heathcare Disaster in South Carolina

While imprisoned on one of South Carolina's 27 prisons, I've come to understand that Hailey Care is a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control. Hailey Care offers prisoners poor nutrition, medical neglect, ignoring medical complaints, deliberate indifference to medical needs, improper diagnosis and failure to provide prescribed medication.

Nikki Hailey, a Republican and South Carolina's first female Governor, is responsible for this system. So far Hailey Care has meant a denial of medical care for a lot of Black prisoners, especially for older prisoners. Doctors who come to work for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) usually have less than stellar records, come from other states where they have been barred and/or have an array of sanctions. Perhaps for South Carolina and its medical board it's a case of "political unaccountability" and an indifference to the human lives of its lumpenproletariat class.

One case in point was Dr. Paul C. Drago (lic # 9700531), barred from three states: New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He's listed as a plastic surgeon, and was hired by the SCDC, but after many complaints he was said to have resigned. The SCDC then brought in Physician Assistant Gregory Schaller, who time and time again exhibited intolerance towards the medical needs of Blacks. After much resistance he too resigned.

I'm currently under care of Dr. Robert Sharp, an Osteopath. I went to see Dr. Sharp and I requested medicated shampoo for psoriasis of my scalp. I also informed him that I was indigent and could not afford shampoo from the canteen. His reply: "I'm Jewish and a tax payer and I'm not ordering shampoo for an African American's hair." Because I reported his racial remarks to human resource staff person Ms. Wright, a member of the predominately Black "overseers" here at the Ridgeland plantation, I was labeled a liar and given a sanction of 15 hours extra duty.

As of the writing of this article, I'm in need of glasses, and am being denied treatment for sleep deprivation and a degenerative nerve disorder. Just today I reported the fact that I have holes in the bottom of my "crocks." I was told I have to wait a month, while under the auspices of Hailey Care. I will continue to speak out about the inadequate health care abuse in South Carolina's prison kamps.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've written extensively about the failure of capitalism to provide adequate healthcare so it's no surprise that the healthcare provided in South Carolina prisons is even more dangerous to the health of prisoners.(1) In previous articles we've exposed Dr. Drago's incompetence on our website. The dismissal/"resignation" of him and his equally incompetent successor are tactical victories, no doubt in response to the complaints and bad press. We encourage all readers to follow this comrade's example in exposing abuse in all forms, including medical neglect and malpractice. While we cannot create a system of healthcare that provides adequately for all under capitalism, we may save some lives by stopping the most dangerous practices. We can even use this information to educate people about the need to put an end to imperialism, a system that lets people suffer and die around the world with no interest in the health of the majority of the world's people.

For those interested in alternative healthcare systems to the ones failing us currently, we recommend studying how the public health standard was raised in communist China under Mao. We distribute a number of books on this topic through our Free Boos for Prisoners Program.

Note: See ULKs 12, 15, and 34.[

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[Censorship] [Security] [Civil Liberties] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
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Facebook Shuts Down South Carolina Prisoner Accounts

facebook in prisons
I have initiated this correspondence in reference to the most recent arbitrary action taken by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) that infringes upon the First Amendment rights of incarcerated, and non-incarcerated, citizens. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

However, the SCDC, which is not even a legislative body, has implemented a policy that impedes and infringes upon the constitutional right to freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The following offense was amended to SCDC Policy OP-22.14, Inmate Disciplinary System:

"905 Creating and/or assisting with a social networking site: The facilitation, conspiracy, aiding, abetting in the creation or updating of an internet web site or social networking site."

This SCDC policy has resulted in Facebook, a social networking site, taking the following arbitrary action on accounts created by, or on behalf of, prisoners within the SCDC:

"Your account is locked because it doesn't comply with inmate regulations. People who are incarcerated may not be eligible to use Facebook if:
* It is prohibited by state law or regulations of the facility
* The account is being maintained by someone else"

These actions on the part of the SCDC and Facebook are of significant public interest due to the fact that they prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to be able to create and update internet websites and social networking sites, utilized to advocate for family and legal support on behalf of their incarcerated family members or loved ones. Further, these actions by the SCDC and Facebook prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from being able to publicize the conditions, and rehabilitative efforts, of their incarcerated family members and loved ones. Such decisions by the SCDC do not serve any "legitimate penological interests" and are in direct conflict with any rehabilitative and re-entry agenda. Most importantly, they are violating non-incarcerated citizens' First Amendment rights to free speech.

The SCDC may cite "security concerns" but this is not a valid response. To prohibit the creation and/or updating of all websites and social networking sites by, or on behalf of, any prisoner within the SCDC is not a sound defensible position. It would effectively negate the hundreds of prisoners who want to establish a true re-entry plan or proceed on a path of rehabilitation. It would also prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. In addition, it would punish prisoners for the exercising of this protected right by non-incarcerated citizens.

In a similar case, the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, decided against such policies and made the following ruling:


"Prisoners may not be punished for posting material on the internet with the assistance of non-incarcerated third parties." Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty v. Ryan, 269 F. Supp. 2d 1199 (D. Ariz. 2003).

My family created and updated a Facebook account on my behalf to advocate for the support of my family and friends, and to publicize my conditions of confinement and rehabilitative efforts and progress. Facebook has locked that account due to SCDC's arbitrary policy. My family and I are preparing to take legal action against the SCDC, because although they can limit the rights of prisoners due to "legitimate security concerns," they do not have the legislative power to impede upon non-incarcerated citizens' rights.

My family and I would be grateful for any aid and assistance, or referrals, that any individual citizen, or group of citizens, may be able and willing to provide. We would respectfully request that everyone help in publicizing this issue, because there are many citizens who are unaware of the fact that they are affected by it. I thank you all in advance for your time and assistance.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We know that many prisoners and their families and friends make use of social networking sites like Facebook to publicize their case and garner help and support. This attempt by SCDC to further limit prisoner's voices comes as no surprise after they banned literature coming from outside sources a few years ago. We have seen an upswing in prisoner activism in South Carolina over the past year, and this policy suggests the prison will do whatever it can to restrict these activists from getting word out about the abuses and injustice going on behind bars.

We know that social networking sites like Facebook are not going to form the basis for successful revolutionary struggles, and that we must build independent institutions of the oppressed, whether online or elsewhere. Yet even that would not address the threat of punishment against prisoners for providing information that is posted online, the basis of this very website. So we stand behind this prisoner's fight and agree that SCDC does not have the right to impose these restrictions. Meanwhile, we call out Facebook for playing along with regulations that shut down the free speech of prisoners and their family and friends.

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [United Front] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
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Segregation is Torture, Unite to Fight Common Enemies

I've been relocated to Ad-Seg which is, of course, the hole. Life in here is as bad as it's ever been. It's been a while since last I was in Ad-Seg and the sad reality is that not too much has changed. A lot has gotten worse. We're kept in our cells for twenty four hours a day. We're given "yard," that is in 10 feet by 10 feet cages which are known as dog kennels, every third day for two hours. It fluctuates but that's pretty much the program. We're given showers every third day as well.

The worst part about being locked in confinement is the overwhelming oppression. The lack of sunlight and movement really does a number on one's mental state. Which is why they monitor us so closely here. We're counted every half hour and they have a crew of psych doctors constantly making circuits around the tiers. From what I understand the suicide rate is pretty high here. So they keep a close eye on us. I've been locked up back here since early May and I'll be here until later this month (June) or early next month. The sad part is that even though I'll be getting out there are a lot of brothers back here who won't be getting released for a long time. A lot of them are youngsters too.

It makes me feel so bad seeing all of these good young brothers in here sacrificing themselves for no reason. The LO violence here at Calipatria is back in full swing. There was a riot recently between the Mexican/Chicanos and the Blacks. The foolishness here in Cali continues. It's time we wake up and get our shit together and stop fighting against each other and start working with each other. Only then can we make progress. The sad truth in Cali is that racial divisions are deeply embedded in us. It's been this way since the eighties and who knows when we'll overcome it. But overcome it we must. So I call on all those LOs with any influence to reexamine the big picture. We are all in the same boat and it's in all our best interest to unite. As the saying goes united we stand divided we fall.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade reminds us why we have a campaign to shut down prison control units. Short term isolation is enough to dramatically harm people's mental and physical health, and in the United $tates prison system many prisoners are locked up for years in isolation units like this prisoner's describes. The call for unity is well placed as we agree with this comrade that oppressed groups coming together is the best chance to fight against the oppressor. This principle of unity is particularly important to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We encourage all our readers to organize for unity and peace for the September 9 solidarity demonstration this year, when our peaceful unity and protest can be a starting point for future united actions and peace agreements among organizations and individuals.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 40]
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From Unity to Collective Liberation; Learning to Unite Against Gender Oppression

Just recently I finished studying a book from PM Press by Chris Crass titled Towards Collective Liberation. This was one of the best political/activist books I've read, and it has been vital in helping me clarify my political vision and goal for creating liberating and transformative change within myself and the world.

I was not aware how this system of divide-and-control creates and utilizes divisions along the lines of gender (sexism), sexuality (homophobia), ability (elder discrimination), and nationality (anti-immigrant rights) to maintain its ruling-class dominance. This lack of awareness of these systems of oppression along the lines of gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality caused me to be completely numb to and disinterested in any struggles for justice and equality as it relates to gender equality and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, elder rights, and immigrant rights.

Prior to reading Toward Collective Liberation, I would not have come close to embracing any struggles remotely dealing with feminism or LGBT rights, partly out of fear of being viewed by my heterosexual male peers as weak, feminine, or even gay. I now see how such a concern is in and of itself sexist and homophobic in nature and is indicative of my own internalized values of sexist/heterosexist male superiority. All women and LGBT people are human beings deserving of our respect and collective support as they too struggle for equality, basic human rights, and the right to live their lives freely, without hindrance, slander, ridicule or discrimination.

Having been in prison for 20 consecutive years, I bear witness on a daily basis to how these same divide-and-rule tactics manifest themselves even behind these prison walls. The penal system uses behavior modification and psychology against us, especially those politically active prisoners engaged in a protracted struggle against all forms of oppression. Such psychological tactics are inflaming/instigating hatred and violence amongst the different "races"; the use of prisoners who covertly collaborate with the penal administration; treating prisoners who are willing to collaborate with the penal administration in far more lenient/favorable ways than those who are not; using collaborating/informing prisoners to spread rumors detrimental to the character and reputation of natural leaders so they will not be trusted; and most noticeably, the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) and Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) as tools of repression to isolate all prisoners deemed to be influential.

Of course, there are many divisions amongst prisoners that can clearly be seen in these modern-day gulags:

  1. Division between much older and experienced captives who view younger, less experienced prisoners as reckless, lacking a "code" of ethics, and not willing to listen to instruction; and the younger, less experienced prisoners who view the older captives as washed up, institutionalized, and behind in the times
  2. Division between those who classify themselves as gay/bi-sexual who are resentful towards those classified as heterosexual who openly alienate them; and those classified as heterosexual who look down upon prisoners classified as gay/bi-sexual with disgust and hostility
  3. Divisions between those who are part of religious/cultural organizations such as Christians, Muslims, Rastas, Catholics, Gods and Earths, Atheists, etc.
  4. Divisions between nationalities and even within nationalities
  5. Division between lumpen street organizations who are convinced that it is more "gangsta" to fight each other rather than fight for change in the circumstance or environment, against oppression and exploitation, inhumane living conditions, extortion, substandard food, etc.

And many more.

The "Agreement to End Hostilities" initiated by those courageous brothers of the Pelican Bay State Prison - SHU Short Corridor Collective and the "United Front for Peace in Prisons - Statement of Principles" developed by MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within, and other types of progressive collective moves taking place in various prisons across this Empire, are just glimpses of the type of unity and leverage we can achieve with a multi-national, inter-organizational, cross-gender alliance if we develop a multi-dimentional analysis of how the penal administration utilizes our differences to keep us divided and at each others' throats instead of working together for our own common good.

What the penal authorities hate most is that after decades of oppressive and inhumane living conditions, the arbitrary use of SHUs, AdSeg, and this "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality, the progressive, revolutionary elements within the various penal colonies will always raise their head. They see within the progressive, revolutionary elements that which will expose and defeat them: the commitment, determination and resolve to oppose and ultimately abolish the criminal injustice system.

At the same time, they can see and feel their own powerlessness, for their power ends at the point when we all come together to lift our heads, take the reigns of our lives into our own hands, throw off the old guard, and collectively struggle to provide new guards for our future security.

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[Control Units] [United Front] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 39]
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Colorado Organization Builds for Peace, Activists Locked up in Segregation

I am chairman of New Aztlan - the Young Brown Berets which works to promote the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We are an anti-imperialist group which focuses upon militancy and revolutionary doctrine; our main audience is Chicanos and Native Americans, united in struggle to expose racist agendas in the injustice system. The term Young applies to those in our group who range from 18-30. We attract a lot of non-gang members and de-active members alike. We stand in the pursuit of self-determination, bridging the gap of racism and uniting all people for the cause of dignity, human rights, and national liberation of all conscientious people. We've opened up our work with all minority and resistance groups of all colors.

Due to political retaliation by the guards in Colorado prisons, I've been moved to solitary confinement, in Colorado's highest security prison. Recently, the DOC headquarters told the public that it will put an end to administrative segregation (Ad-Seg). The 23 hours a day spent in total isolation with a TV to babysit us is no longer going to happen. Yet, all it did was to create an even more complicated form of isolation. Ad-Seg has turned into maximum security, with 3 levels to progress into the general population. Class one writeups which carry potential street charges are now given for fights, and other actions that can be perpetuated at any time by any guard.

STG-affiliated members can be sent to Ad-Seg for no reason other than the notion of a perceived threat. Unity of any type threatens the prison system and any prisoners caught taking any action will be subjected to the cruel imagination of the guards. I was denied soap and all hygiene items including a shower for 21 days, all due to my proclamation of my membership as part of a community. It's ok, it's worth the time I've spent alone, in fact your ULK was revealed to me while I was in Ad-Seg.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons builds for peace and unity amongst the oppressed, with an anti-imperialist platform. As more and more organizations like this across the country sign on to the United Front, we are working to implement these principles on the ground. We know that in the early stages many who take up this struggle will face long-term isolation as they become very real threats to the violent, predatory ways promoted by the U.$. prison system. Yet, as more courageous leaders step forward a critical mass will be reached that make the state's tools of repression less effective. We offer study groups and individual study materials for our comrades behind bars, programs that are especially important for those locked up in solitary confinement with no other contact with the outside world. We urge our comrades to make good use of their time behind bars to study and build, whether in isolation or general population.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 39]
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Texas Petitions Fall on Deaf Ears, Need to Shift Campaign Target

We here on Polunsky Unit are receiving the ULK and copies of the grievance petition. We are engaged in the fight on a very small scale. Hundreds of petitions have been sent to the central grievance office, Administrative Review and Risk Management Division (ARRM), Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and recently TDCJ Board Chairman Oliver Bell, but to no avail. Grievances are not submitted and grievance investigators claim to not have received them. Those that do get processed/submitted are not properly investigated and receive the standard response of "insufficient evidence to substantiate your allegation."

The KKKlantation Warden Gary Hunter is in collusion with grievance staff to trash/destroy any grievance/appeal that may get action if we proceed to the Step 2 level, that is if the Step 2 does not land in the hands of Regional Director Richard Alford who has been Assistant Warden and Head Warden on this KKKlantation within the 12 years that I've been here.

There is another struggle against Helen Sheffield (Sgt. of Safe Prison/Extortion). She confiscates personal property of offenders accused of extortion, running gambling businesses, stores, inappropriate relationships with female guards, etc., and destroys property if the offender refuses to snitch for her. This is all done under the watchful eye of Senior Warden Hunter and Assistant Warden Kenneth Hutto.

If any comrades in Texas can assist us in our fight against Sgt. Sheffield and her theft and unlawful destruction of offender property, please feel free to engage in this struggle.

To all comrades of USW in Texas, we must come up with a new direction to take this grievance campaign (new addresses, etc.) to send grievance petitions to because all the former names/addresses have failed us. My suggestion is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or ACLU Texas. We comrades on the Polunsky KKKlantation have chosen to forward our petitions to the DOJ.

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[Censorship] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 39]
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Illinois Court Rules Medical Books Not Allowed to Prisoners

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has just rejected an Illinois prisoner's lawsuit pertaining to the refusal of the prison to allow him to receive the Physician's Desk Reference and the Complete Guide to Prescription Drugs 2009. The court's rationale for this rejection was rather convoluted:


"Quite simply, the prison gave the books' drug related content as one of the reasons justifying its decision to restrict Muson's access to the books, and we don't need to look beyond the books' title and the content to know the books contain information about drugs."

By reading this statement, one would assume that the prison was afraid of the information that the prisoner would learn from reading these books, but later in the opinion, the Court indicated that the same books were available to be read in the prison's law library.

The Seventh Circuit has been issuing some rather head-scratching decisions lately concerning prisoners' rights, and this is simply another one. If the prison we are confined in does not have these books available in the prison library this is a point we as prisoners can raise around this case.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This court ruling demonstrates the arbitrary and unjust basis for censorship of prisoners' mail and reading material. The difficulty with fighting these decisions, which start with the mail room rejections, is that courts often uphold censorship with arbitrary and contradictory reasoning. We need the help of jailhouse lawyers and street lawyers alike so that we can take on some of these battles and expand prisoners' access to revolutionary literature in particular.

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